Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Post-game vs Boston - Mar 6, 2007

Another night on national television (as national as VS is) and another win in the books for the Avalanche. They came out with a 2-0 win in a big goaltending battle between Peter Budaj and Tim Thomas. They answered save for save until one finally snuck by Thomas at the start of the third. Milan Hejduk then sealed it with an empty netter and Avs fans breathed a sigh of relief as we witnessed the teams first 4-game winning streak of the season.

Although the shots don't entirely reflect a goaltending battle - 30-21 in favor of the Avs - the game certainly saw its share of excellent saves. Thomas is nothing if not a battler while in the crease. He's not the best of goaltenders, particularly with giving up rebounds, but he fights like no other to keep that puck out of the crease. Peter Budaj, while flashing the leather impressively, had a huge pad stack save to preserve his shutout. You don't see pad stacks often enough these days, unless you're a Devils fan. And nobody would ever admit to that.

The bigger story is that Paul Stastny saw his point streak extended to 16 games as he tied his father Peter for the franchise record. Initially, it looked like the streak would be broken but the first goal was changed to be a straight in shot from Brett Clark rather than a redirection from Brett Mclean. With that, Paul is one game away from tying the NHL rookie point streak record which was held by Teemu Selanne. Yes, I said "was held" not "is held". It'll make grammatical sense tomorrow night after the game. That's right, another prediction. I'm on a roll lately.

The penalty kill was looking very good tonight. It starts with players such as Stasnty and Rycroft making it tough for the Bruins to get into the zone and filters down to players such as Finger and Sauer who held tough in the zone and didn't scramble down low. It's a good improvement from a team that is 25th in the league on the PK.

Wojtek Wolski is looking a bit lost on the ice right now. He's not strong enough on the puck and he appears scared to take a hit. That's a bad combination for a 6'3 winger that needs to start scoring more. You can't score if the puck ain't on your stick and you can't get the puck on your stick if you're not willing to take some bumps.

Ossi Vaananen and Kurt Sauer look to be playing the body more lately. Which is good b/c those two obviously aren't going to out-race or out-finess anyone out there. Combine them with Jeff Finger, who seems happy to throw the body around, and you have a good 4-5-6 combination on the backend.

Brett Mclean seems to be fitting in well with Hejduk and Stastny. He may not be a natural fit but he looks to be working hard. He made some good plays in the defensive zone and was decent in the offensive zone. That seems to be about all those 2 need on their line is someone to play decently and contribute from time-to-time. Though he contributed no points tonight, that line still chipped in for 3 out of the 4 Avalanche points tonight.

The Good
- shutout win
- good PK
- great goaltending
- good team composure
- Sakic going 80% in the faceoff circle

The Bad
- powerplay looked disjointed
- not cashing in chances

The Ugly
- Brian Engblom's haircut